People not in the gun community often think that Texas would be the Wild West when it comes to gun laws but it’s not. It is not the most relaxed State when it comes to possession, open carry and laws requiring secure weapon storage. While there is good reason and clout to back up these rumors, Texas still does have gun laws that you have to follow and should be aware of.
To start, there are no rifle, shotgun or handgun registration laws in Texas. That means that there is no waiting period to buy a gun if you woke up in the morning wanting one. This includes weapons deemed “assault” weapons by Federal laws and other State laws. Additionally, this extends to ammunition capacity where there is no limit on how much ammunition you can have in a magazine or on your person. In short, the only limit to how many bullets you have is your capacity to store them. Or money.
The only time you will need to get a permit in relation to firearms is when you want to carry a handgun concealed or open. As of January 1st 2016 you are allowed to open carry a handgun, in a safe non-threatening manner, if you have a concealed carry permit. You are allowed to open carry a shotgun or rifle without a concealed carry permit unless it is in a manner “calculated to cause harm”. So be careful because the wording can be slippery and is up to the police to interpret.
City dwellers should pay extra special attention to the exceptions to these rules, which are; even with the open and concealed carry permit you are not allowed to have firearm in:
- Amusement Parks.
- Churches and other places of religious worship.
- Correctional facilities.
- Polling places on Election Day.
- High schools.
- In an establishment where 51% or more of the revenue comes from alcohol.
- Inside an airport.
In regards to transportation you may carry a loaded handgun within reach in a vehicle as long as it is out of sight. Long guns, as in shotguns or other rifles, may be loaded, within reach and in plain view in the vehicle.
If you are not from Texas it may be hard to purchase a firearm while in Texas because you must show ID to buy a firearm and in many stores they will not sell them to you because of the potential conflicts with other States laws. Also, if you have a concealed carry permit from another State, Texas will allow you to open carry in their state as well.
A note on safety in these troubling times, in light of the recent shooting in Houston. If you live in one of the big cities (Houston, Austin, San Antonio, Dallas or Fort Worth) the only city that is high on the FBI’s list of most dangerous cities in Texas is Houston. Austin particularly is noted to be very safe, so just because you live in a state that has relaxed gun laws and you live in a big city does not mean you have to feel unsafe. Crime rates in the five biggest cities in Texas have actually dropped by an average of 6.5% in the last year.
If you are still worried about violent crime or if you are a business owner worried about protecting his/her wares there are plenty of versatile storage options available.